It's Memorial Day weekend — a time to turn my thoughts to the type of person who is much braver and more committed than I am… To the sort of person who does the brutal and dirty work of the military so I don't have to.
Andrew Olmstead was one such person. He was killed nearly six months ago in Iraq. But he left behind a powerful blog post reflecting on his own death. [Obsidian Wings: Andrew Olmstead]
Mark Daily was another: He became an Army lieutenant after graduating from UCLA — partially inspired to go to Iraq by the essays of Christopher Hitchens. Daily was killed last year, and whatever your opinion of Hitchens, he has written Daily a very moving tribute. [A Death in the Family]
Denny Hagler was my uncle: an Army Ranger. He passed away 16 years ago next month. After returning from Southeast Asia before he was even 20, he fought a series of devastating health complications for the rest of his life. His birthday always falls right around Memorial Day Weekend, and I never fail to remember him with both fondness and regret for the time we haven't gotten to spend together. To this day, my mom's brother remains the toughest guy I've ever laid eyes on. He would have been 53 this year.